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10.06.2019 11:40

Nadal shows his class to get record 12th French Open

There had been a feeling early on that Rafael Nadal was going to do all he could to win his record 12th French Open, and his determination showed in the end as he saw off a valiant effort from Dominic Thiem.

While there were thoughts that if he came up against Novak Djokovic, it would have been more difficult, it was hard to look past the Spanish legend on clay at Roland-Garros right from the start. Going into the clay season, Nadal had not won a single title all year, and even then it took until the very last one for him to taste glory in Rome.

From there, it appears that he got his eye in at exactly the right time, which allowed him to dominate everyone he came up against in Paris. When he faced Roger Federer, the player ranked just below him in the French capital, he made it look as if they were hundreds of ranking points apart.

For Thiem, he may feel hard done by given that his semi-final went over two days, and was pushed back from Thursday in the first instance. This meant that Nadal got two days extra rest overall, but Thiem is younger and fitter, so this cannot be used as a complete excuse.

The world number four was in the mood to make it an interesting game from the beginning, and broke his opponent early on, but was broken back again straight afterwards. Some back-and-forth play led to encouraging signs for Thiem, but he lost the first set in the end.

However, he did not lose spirit, and was able to latch onto a drop in focus to capitalise on some uncharacteristic weaknesses in Nadal’s play to take it to a set each. From there, though, it was all Nadal, and Thiem could simply not keep up with the King of Clay at his very best.

In the end, the 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 scoreline may feel harsh on Thiem, but it showed what an incredible match and tournament Nadal played once again, as he went ahead of Margaret Court’s 11 Australian Open titles at the same venue to etch out his own personal record on the red clay of Roland-Garros.

For Thiem, he made much more of a contest of things this year, and seems as if he has earnt the best-of-the-rest status underneath the top three. If he is able to continue this form on grass, after showing that he can beat the world number one, then he could well end up with a Grand Slam to his name this year.

Words: Danielle Nixon

Images: PA